online shoppingLast year e-commerce sales in the U.S. totaled $225.5 billion — an increase of 15.8 percent year-over-year, making the online marketplace an excellent place for a business venture, spotlights With the continued growth of the digital age, it is becoming more accessible than ever to host a website on your computer and start your own online business.

It’s a labor of love, and you’d love it to make money. Don’t plummet into the all too common pitfalls online merchants make that harm their businesses. Evaluate the operation of your business by observing these do’s and don’ts.

Don’t charge too much for shipping

Aim to break even. Forbes explains that more than 60 percent of customers cite excessive shipping costs for why they cancelled a purchase. Retailers who hope to make a profit on shipping stand to lose big business. Conversely, those who don’t charge enough can lose money. Find a balance that is right for your business. Be realistic about what shipping should cost, and charge accordingly. Calculate your actual costs in advance by weighing your products and knowing your package dimensions. Also, think about using flat-rate options available through the U.S. Postal Service.

Don’t ignore the mobile device dependency

Four out of five consumers use smartphones to shop, which means if you’re not targeting the mobile device demographic, you’re losing leads. Even the smallest online retailer should make their website mobile-friendly. Many of today’s do-it-yourself retail platforms have built-in responsive web design. recommends a responsive WordPress theme, such as WooThemes or Genesis, the WP Touch Pro plugin, or WPTap for going mobile.

Don’t let the shopping experience turn stale

Online shoppers want the same stimulating experience as in-store shopping. Maintaining fresh content is indeed challenging. Aim for mini-goals, such as seasonal changes to your home page, or host special events to highlight inventory you’d like to sell. Minor changes, such as sweepstakes and discounts, can make a big difference to your bottom line.

Do worry about shopping cart abandonment

The average rate of shopping cart abandonment — not purchasing items placed in an online shopping cart — is pretty high, on average 67 percent. In other words, seven out of 10 people don’t cross the shopping finish line, which leaves big money sitting in your customers’ carts and not in your bank account. Make sure the check-out process is quick and painless. Don’t present your customer with unexpected costs such as too-pricey shipping or overly complicated credit card processing. Follow up with shoppers by sending an email that reminds them about the items left in their cart.

Do offer top-notch customer service

Your customers likely have hundreds, if not thousands, of places where they can shop online for products similar to yours. Stores that provide the best customer service before, during and after the sale will maximize customer loyalty. Be responsive to questions and concerns, and occasionally go above and beyond to surprise your customers with perks, such as free shipping upgrades or a free gift. Foster that customer loyalty by reaching out to customers and building relationships through social networking, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Vine.

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Author: Chris London is the art director for Pixel Productions Inc., a strategic graphic and web design company where his focus is to continually find creative and innovative strategies to implement with businesses who need brand design and marketing with impact.